As regular tournament golf takes a break on both the European Tour and PGA Tours, it’s the perfect time to take an ante-post look at next year’s majors – starting with the US Masters.
Since the inaugural US Masters at Augusta in 1934, it has rivalled the Open Championship as the most sought after title in golf. However, whilst the open links courses of Scotland and England are seen as the truest test of golf, Augusta is iconic for being the most immaculately manicured golf course on the planet – and having a Green Jacket makes you the envy of all that haven’t.
Ante-post betting is all about finding some early value, and backing players that will hopefully contract in price before the event, leaving you either very excited at having a big-price about a much lower-priced player, or in the perfect position to trade-off at a lower-price.
Two young-guns have won the last 2 renewals in Danny Willett and Jordan Spieth and, though Willett is potentially over-priced at 70/1, he would be joining an elite club containing Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods if he won back-to-back renewals. The credentials of Jordan Spieth are harder to ignore though, as the dual Major winner has finished 2/1/2 here in just 3 starts – though I can’t see him trading much shorter than the current 8/1 come the off. That also applies to the likes of Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Dustin Johnson, who are all priced-up at 12/1 or lower.
At slightly bigger-prices, Hideki Matsuyama and Bubba Watson make some appeal, but the former is priced-up on his current form, whilst the latter doesn’t look in love with the game at present.
Therefore, the first real value looks to be Paul Casey, and the World Number-14 is over-priced at 66/1 if he hits the same level of form in 2017 as he did in 2016. The Englishman has five top-11 appearances in 9 starts at Augusta, with his 4th place finish in 2016 being his best performance. He also finished top-10 at the US PGA, and was in excellent form in the Fedex-Cup Play-Offs.
Another Englishman, Matthew Fitzpatrick, also deserves some ante-post support at 100/1 after his win in Dubai. The youngster isn’t the most consistent, nor has he the typical power of a US Masters winner, but he thrives on difficult layouts and his fantastic putting stroke gets its rewards on pure greens like those at Augusta. 7th on his Augusta debut last year, posting a final round 67, he could well put that initial experience to good use next year.
JB Holmes also warrants support at 125/1. He hadn’t made much of an impression in his major appearances until last season, when he was fourth in the US Masters and third in the Open Championship. That was only his third appearance in the Master though, and his power-hitting and excellent short-game can be a potent combination at Augusta.
The final vote goes to Thorbjorn Olesen, who made a stunning US Master debut in 2013. A first-round 78 looked sure to knock him out of the tournament, but he was the best player in the field over the final three rounds. A player who blows hot and cold, he’s shown just how hot he can be on several occasions over the last couple of seasons, including when helping to land this-blog a nice winner in this year’s World Cup Of Golf.
Paul Casey 1 Point Each-Way @ 66/1 (Betfred, William Hill) ¼ odds 5 Places
Matthew Fitzpatrick 1 Point Each-Way @ 100/1 (Betfred) ¼ odds 5 Places
JB Holmes 1 Point Each-Way @ 125/1 (Skybet, Sportingbet) ¼ odds 5 Places
Thorbjorn Olesen 1 Point Each-Way @ 275/1 (Netbet, 10Bet) ¼ odds 5 Places